It's a shame the way I went and died today. How often do you hear of a 35 year old dying of, well, I guess you could say, “not living”. I want to forgive myself, I mean, had I realized that by sitting in the background, watching the world's other actors play their scenes out in front of me...if I knew that I'd simply...fade away? I'm sure I would have done something. I suppose. But I had to know I hadn't been doing anything up to that point, right?
“Do something Brian,” I'm certain I could have, or would have, said. When the only thing you see in the mirror is a graveyard stare, well, that should really show you something. It's hard to see the truth, when the eyes looking back at you are blind.
I have to take a tiny bit of validation in learning that there is no heaven or hell. I'm still uncertain who or what runs this world, but you either have two choices. If you've lived a satisfied life, you're welcome to vanish into the vapor. If you're a lost soul like myself, however, there is some form of penance to pay. The limbo that I find myself in is not much different than wandering from day to day, just doing enough to call yourself a mortal. You breathe, maybe today you eat, you say just the right thing when someone asks, “how are you?”, to make them cease their investigation.
I guess my afterlife is simply the same as my natural life: an avoidance of living.
We only get one chance to live this life, in reality. When fear is your taxi driver, you end up in Faceless Town, left with debt that no honest man could pay. The skies there are always a sorrowful-gray, as they refuse the entrance to shining stars into your eyes. The children mourn the death of dreaming, as they color their chalk drawings on the sidewalk in ash. This is Given Up Street, and it seems as though I was a resident.
While the morose clouds built up around me, I shared a tiny bit of solace each day when the red bird came. So vibrant, so life-like, the red bird appeared at my back porch around the same time to feed on the few seeds left to be fed upon. She was the last vestige of the real world. The only bit of color left in a town that carried on like a funeral. What a beautiful sight, especially brilliant against a backdrop of black. I took a little bit of hope from that bird, every time it came to visit. I stored all of that hope in a jar, and though I never really had a plan for it, I wonder now if I could have traded it all in for a life one day?
Not that it mattered, as eventually the beautiful red bird too fell victim of the Faceless Town. Just another bit of life wiped away by the gloom.
My atonement, at once, is handed down. The charge for my failed life is suddenly clear to me.
I must live, again.
You can't really die, if you weren't really living. I've made plenty of mistakes in my time, but I really couldn't have expected to get away with bungling that one up. I have to live, I have to breathe, I have to take what this world gives, and I have to give back to it what I have to offer. That's it! That's the truth to the matter.
Your life cannot possibly end something that didn't ride the promise from the start. I am a decent man, I'm a compassionate person. I am kind to strangers, and an incredible lover. I create emotions with my words, and at times I offer them up for applause. I have never forgotten Mother's Day, and I always take the trash out. Goddammit I AM NOT GIVING UP!
I am a human being.
A real life person.
And I deserve to live.
And so, I will.
I want to see, that red bird fly.
Right eye socket. Whacked. Left-side nose outlet. Cracked. Billy? Broken and beaten. The question remains though: is it better to be beaten up for who you are, or who you are not? Those rum-drunk thugs certainly got the impression that I was, what did they say again? Oh yeah, an ass pirate. I think they meant gay. Nothing wrong with either really, but definitely not worthy of beating me into a pulp. That's a funny word. Pulp. More like a pulp-let, maybe.
Nothing but a bunch of savages, California.
I don't enjoy confirming my lack of conformity. I could be gay if I wanted. If I wanted the dick, I mean. I could be Japanese too, don't tell me that I couldn't! Or the Messiah even. I just don't like work, that's all. That's a lot of souls and one big ol' messed up world to save. No time for that. But don't beat me up. Right?
I don't think we should technically have to wear a right foot and a left food sandal either, while I'm ranting. There's no proof that Jesus wore appropriate sandals, for instance. Or was there? Maybe that's why it's a rule. Sure, my right foot is kind of sore, but I'm not actually falling over any more than I usually do. I think it's quite stylish in a non-stylish kind of way. But I'm just confirming again. Stop that Billy.
Where am I, anyway? Where are any of us? Well, I guess we'll stick to me since I'm the one lost in the woods. That fair? Good, I like to be fair. Been walking for who knows how long. My poor eyes are pretty swollen, so I'm likely even more off course than usual, which is saying something. The pine tree's needles laugh at me as they snap me in the face with their wicked branches. Bastards.
There's something going on over there I think. I realize of course you can't see where I'm motioning with my hand. But it's over there. Some kind of party. Or brothel. Or camping activity gone awry. Lots of laughing and there is definitely fire involved. Oh, Gobs, not another cult, I don't think I could bear another fire eating, loin cloth wearing cult. Those are so played out these days.
Just as I suspected. Some kind of porn party. There are hula hoops EVERYWHERE. Bizarre. This is some really kinky shit.
Why is that pretty girl falling to the ground so dramatically? No, I know you can't see her. I can't either really, but you're just going to have to trust me. First person I've seen since those ruffians beat me, so she's the prettiest girl I've ever seen.
I should engage her I suppose. But what to say? No, not engage her that way. This is hardly the setting for that kind of spontaneity.
I could go with:
“I may be bloody and beaten, my eyes swollen beyond reason, but you're a beauty if I ever saw one.”
That's laying it on a little thick.
“Have you seen my walrus?”
Might be good, but she'll be lost without the context.
I suppose I could just be whoever I am, and do whatever I do. Or something. I don't even think she's knows I'm here. Oh Gob, I'm a creeper. Creeping.
Ok Billy, say something quick. Do something. Anything other than walking up like a reject from zombie flick, letting words fall randomly from my mouth.
Ooh! Fig berries. I know. I'll chew on these and act like I'm out on a stroll.
Yeah, just a stroll. Nothing wrong with that. Or is there?
Oh Gobs, she's seen me. Here we go. Act normal. Don't mention the walrus. Or the beating. Or the sandals.
“What's the word?”
Ugh. Did I just say that?
The preceding (right up there. You didn’t read it? What are you doing here, Go back up. Then come back here.) is one half of an amazing LJ Idol intersection with the lovely and fascinating kandigurl. You can find her side of the story right here over here where you’d find it if you were looking. Then, remember to vote, or cast stones, or do whatever it is we’re meant to do this week.
Between the head-banging, strobe lighting, and angst-filled lyrics, American Idiot might be better suited in an arena rock setting, than the musical theater. But punk rockers are wont to rock where punk rockers choose, especially if the setting is less than appropriate. That's not to say that the Green Day rock opera, playing this weekend at the Straz Center, isn't a great show, because it truly is. Just be prepared to have your face kicked in a (theatrically) punk rock way.
A kinetic, frenzied affair, American Idiot, based on Green Day's multi-platinum fist-pumper of an album, leaves both its performers and audience grasping for air. Rage has a way of pushing everyone to the edge, it seems. The story, expanded from the concept album, focuses on the lives of three discontent young men, each with enough indignation to power the set's multiple video monitors, with some to spare. Johnny (Brandon Kalm), Will (Casey O'Farrell), and Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) are all looking for a way out. Out of their hopeless suburban town, out of the rules that shackle and bind them, and out of the eye of the authority that hovers like a hand grenade. With a handful of bus tickets, the boys think they find their way out, just as Will is chained tighter to settle in suburbia by a girlfriend with a baby bump. Johnny and Tunny run off to the city together, but are quickly separated and swallowed up by drugs and an American war respectively.
Though the focus is most certainly masculine, it's really the ladies of American Idiot (including Clearwater's own, Jenna Rubaii), who steal the show, stomping their boots and belting their lyrics out as they do it. It's really “Whatshername” (Alyssa DiPalma) who ironically demands that the audience remember her, with a performance that is sure to haunt both Johnny, and the exasperated crowd for sometime.
And they all rage on.
American Idiot borrows much of the behind the scenes creative team (including director Michael Mayer and scenic designer Christine Jones) from the equally audacious, Spring Awakening, and it shows. The stark set remains static for much of the show, save for a couch, industrial stairs and a bed or two, swinging in or out as needed. The amalgamation of bombastic music and bold characters make up the rest, and though the mostly sung-through show is light on dialogue, the trio of tales are all easy to follow.
American Idiot is a one act, fury of a show that will leave you wondering how the amazing cast pulls off the singing, screaming, kicking, and endless dancing. As the characters challenge any and all authority, the show itself challenges it's performers and audience in a break-neck, balls to the wall, middle finger-flipped fracas. And the breathlessness couldn't be more worth it. Fans of Green Day, of pop-like punk rock, or anyone who thinks their bosses don't give them any respect are bound to love American Idiot. But as mentioned, a typical musical theater crowd might leave a little shell-shocked.
May 17-19, Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. 1 and 6:30 p.m. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, $20-$79
(Copied with permission from Creative Loafing Tampa)
RuPaul's Drag Race has turned American on to plenty of fishy and glamorous drag queens during it's five seasons, but none have stolen more hearts than campy theater queen, Jinkx Monsoon. Jinkx (performed by Jerick Hoffer) went from this year's underdog, all the way to winner, crowned by RuPaul herself. We had the chance to catch up with her as she prepares to bring her act to Tampa this weekend:
“America's Next Drag Superstar”, Jinkx Monsoon has an incredible ring to it, doesn't it? Congratulations on winning Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race! Has it set in yet, really?
This week I was able to celebrate at my home bar Julia's on Broadway in Seattle with all my friends and family! It is finally sinking in now that I've gotten the chance to really celebrate with those who were close to me throughout this entire experience. I'm finally ready to take on the whole wide world.
There has been a lot of catty, sometimes hate-filled discourse between drag fans, usually on the internet. You've really come out and risen above it all. What is it like to be a role model now, and did you foresee yourself becoming one before this whole incredible ride began? I never set out to become such a role model, but now that I have this opportunity I really enjoy spreading my message of positive thinking and positive energy. My Mantras and personal statements were more my personal inspiration to keep myself energized throughout the competition and less my aspirations to become a role model to the youth but now that I've been given that opportunity I definitely want to use this exposure as a platform for social change!
And along those lines, how can Jinkx Monsoon impact the drag community, and even the LBGT community as a whole, during your reign? I think Jinkx Monsoon stands up for all of us who challenge the American standards of gender beauty and self-identity. I think she is a role model in the fact that she marches to the beat of her own drum and does things her own way in spite of the way that everyone else would like her to do things. I plan on speaking out on equal rights issues and the gay rights movement and progressing our social consciousness forward to make this world a more accepting and inhabitable place for all of the different people who live here. Jinkx Monsoon the character definitely isn't a paragon of social etiquette, but Jerick Hoffer the performer wants to use this as an opportunity to spread a positive message.
You had quite a bit of opening up, on the show about your relationship with your mother and your upbringing. I had a lot of mixed emotions about opening up about my family, but ultimately I decided to share certain parts of my story because they are huge turning point and what made me the kind of drag queen artist and human being I am today. I think that you can learn just as much from the tragic moments in your life, if not more, as you can from the successful moments in your life. My mother and I have resolved these issues years ago, but due to the episodes airing we've been able to reflect and really grow from this experience as a family. Drag race more or less brought my family back together in a time when we were kind of disparate and my personal recent success has motivated my brothers to really go for their life dreams and I fully support them and all the things that they do to accomplish their goals in life. When people ask me if I set out to be a role model to the youth of America, I respond that I just set out to be a role model to my younger brothers and if other people can take positive messages from that, I'm happy to provide.
My absolute favorite Jinkx episode was when you gave American veteran, Dave, a makeover on the soldier challenge. Girl! You made us all tear up. What did you get from that challenge? It was really easy to be compassionate and caring with Dave because Dave is a compassionate caring person himself. I learned so much from him about the history of the gay rights movement. I learned a lot from him about what veterans actually went through before they were able to be out in the military. Dave has risen above so much adversity in his life and he really lit a fire under me to rise above all my challenges and Drag Race. He believed in me every moment of our time together and it fueled me to keep my head in the game. I have stayed in touch with him since the filming of Drag Race and I feel lucky that I got to take home the crown not just for me, but for Dave and for all the people like Dave who lay down the brickwork for the gay rights movement to be where it's at today.
You're such a talented and gifted performer and actor. How different is drag from acting? Is drag just a deeper form of method acting, in your opinion? Drag is acting. If you're doing your job right you've created a character and a persona that is unique from your own. I think of drag less like stage acting and more like commedia dell'arte. You create a form to live in, a persona that has life and history of its own and you portray it for your audiences whether you're on stage or just walking around. If you're in costume and you are in drag, you're in character and that's the way I see it.
You describe yourself, Jerrick, as “kind of a goof, and a little bit of a dork,” and Jinkx is “the life of the party”. Where does the light switch flip for that transformation? For me the transformation isn't complete until every element is in place. It's not enough just to have the make up, the costume, the shoes, the wig on one at a time. They all have to be in place together for me to feel like Jinkx has come to life. The persona of Jinkx has evolved throughout the years, but when I look into the mirror and i see Jinkx looking back at me, that's when I fully snap into character and the rest is kind of out of my hands. It's all improv, it's all on the spot decision-making as my character. Jerick is definitely a dork, but Jinkx is the life of the party because Jinkx insists on being the life of the party. That's just who she is, she wants all eyes on her at all times.
As I mentioned, you'll be performing here in Tampa at Hamburger Mary's on May 19th, and I can't tell you how excited we are to have you. What should we be expecting from Jinkxalicous? When you come to one of my shows, come with an open mind and be ready to experience whatever might happen that night. I take my job as a performer extremely seriously, and I spend all day trying to concoct the perfect show for that specific audience. I never know what I'm going to do until that day because I really want the inspiration to hit me, but what you can be assured is it will be a top notch performance from a passionate performer.
If Little Edie (Grey Gardens) and Jinkx's namesake Eddie Monsoon (Absolutely Fabulous) came backstage after one of your drag shows, what do you think their reactions would be? I hope that little Edie would feel honored by my tribute to her and I hope Edina Monsoon would try to hire me to be her body double for special appearances. Basically I hope they would save my homage to them as a portrayal of my absolute love for who they are and not take any offense to any of it. Or if they did take offense to it I hope that we could laugh our way through it without a lawsuit. Ha ha! RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5 Winner, Jinkx Monsoon performs at Hamburger Marys in Ybor, Sun., May 19. No cover, reservations strongly recommended, call 813 241 6279 for availability.
Reporting from Parts Unknown, WLJI News 64's Jerry Jumpheimer:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are coming to you live here, from wherever we are, where in just a few brief moments, we will be conducting a live, face to face interview with that plucky adventurer extraordinaire, emo_snal Yes, that's right, that will be coming up, in just a few short moments. First though we will be talking to some of the locals here, men and woman who know of this hero's exploits. With me now is Ms. Jane January. Ms. January, can you tell us a little bit about how you know emo_snal?
Know him? Know him? Young man, I don't know him. No one really knows him. We all just know of him. He's lead quite the life you know. Take, for instance the time he saved that girl from hurling herself into that volcano. That was no feat worth forgetting, I assure you.
And Ms. January, why did he do that?
Who knows? Who really knows? But there has not been another sacrifice on this island since then, nor has the mighty volcano wiped us out. We give all the credit to emo_snal for that.
For quelling the volcano?
In just a few short moments, ladies and gentlemen, as I've said, the one and only emo_snal will join us. Now though, let's talk to another local witness. This is Mr. Frederico Falconhead. Mr. Falconhead, tell us about Emo_Snal.
Him? Oh, what a legend he is in these parts. Did you know he's a beekeeper? A beekeeper of all things? All of the bees almost vanished not long ago, but Emo_snal has been, well, keeping the bees here on the island. It's incredible.
So what you're saying is that Emo_snal, is a world-renowned beekeeper?
Yes, yes I am.
Coming up next...
Did you also know, that he spent many a time, living and working on a ship?
No, I did not.
Yes, Emo_snal worked on a large, sailing vessel here. His story was documented for many months, and though we did not see him here on the island, we heard of his day to day from his journal. It was really quite compelling!
Emo_snal is compelling then. That's what you'd say?
Excellent. Now then...
Also, he is a top notch professional wrestler!
Indeed! Trained by the legendary lucahdors in Mexico in his youth, Emo_snal has been a tremendous champion on every continent that exists. And even some that don't.
He's really quite the fellow, isn't he?
That's what I'm telling you!
Ok, thank you Mr. Falconhead.
Yes, I just did. Ok, coming up, very soon, our exclusive, one on one with this legend, Emo_snal. BUT FIRST. Let me introduce you to another local, Mrs. Verdana Timesnewroman, a local newspaper reporter. What say you of Emo_snal?
He stole my baby.
Stole my baby.
Oh my goodness. Can you tell us more about that?
Well, I never really had a baby. But Mr. Snal never met me, nor ever gave me one. So in theory, he stole my baby.
Oh, ok. Thank you for that ace reporting. Coming up, one on one, with baby theft advocate, Emo_snal. What's that? Ok, we're just receiving word now. Emo_snal is not here? Ok, bear with me. We're just receiving word that Emo_snal is off on another adventure. I'm not certain what he's doing, only that I know it will be worth reading, watching, writing about. Is he in fact, on the moon? Perhaps he has re-discovered the last city of Atlantis? I'm not sure. What I do know is that it will be fascinating, and we'll get a read on it, just before he sets off on another adventure.
This has been Jerry Jumpheimer for WLJI News 64
Can I say hi to my mother?
No Mr. Falconhead. No you may not.
There was a time when a young boy would ditch his mother while grocery shopping to read the comic books near the magazine rack. There were untold number of worlds waiting for vivid imaginations right on Aisle 4. Our world evolves though, and over the years, the comic book industry has traveled a shakier trajectory than baby Kal-El's journey from Krypton to Earth. Slumping sales could have spelled Doomsday to our costumed-icons, but our heroes are not throwing in the cape just yet.
The 12th Annual Free Comic Book Day swings into action Saturday, May 4th providing 4.5 million copies of one of a kind comics to 2000 comic retailers in 60 countries. “FCBD is really a worldwide open house to get more people interested in comics. Given that many of the top movies, TV shows and video games have their origins in comics, we're trying to invite more people to the fun we have in comic shops every week,” says FCBD founder Joe Field. This year there are 12 “Gold Level” Special Edition comics that all of the retailers will carry including the debut of DC Comic's new Superman series Superman Unchained by superstar artist Jim Lee. Marvel Comics will debut its new Infinity series as well, and Image Comics will feature a new Walking Dead story that is certain to race to Ebay faster than The Flash.
There are also 40 other optional titles that will vary depending on the store, as each retailer makes the event something special. Yancy St. Comics in Port Richey has assembled an Avengers-like ensemble of famous comic writers and artists for their part in the celebration. Among the legendary talent who will be on hand is long-time Batman writer Chuck Dixon (Vengeance of Bane) who appreciates the value of Free Comic Book Day: “I get to meet the fans and a lot of non-fans checking out the comic shop for the first time. I think the biggest contribution that FCBD makes is as an introduction for kids to the world of comics. A lot of a time these giveaway books are a child's first exposure to the medium. I mean, it's hard to argue with the price, right?” Other participating stores include Green Shift, Demolition Comics, Heroes Haven, Thunder Road, Read More Comics in Brandon and Emerald City in Pinellas. To find all participating local retailers, visit the Free Comic Book Day website.
(Text and interviews provided by Brian Frederick)
Like a burro in a burrito.
I don't think it's fair to call me a bad story-teller simply because I tell a story about a competition involving a bunch of clowns and don't know the winner, or most any of the details. Or if there were any rubber chickens harmed in the telling of it. You have to understand, circus life isn't all high-wire hysterics and talking lions. Though, he is pretty insightful, that lion. Did you know that many lions don't even bother talking? Guess that makes me pretty lucky, but still, I can't be expected to remember things. They don't have me in the mind-reader's tent, ya know. “Come one, come all to see the Amazing, Mystical, Billy Wylde. He can't tell you your fortune, but he can sell you expired corndogs.”
No one ever said that.
Still, this clown thing was a pretty big deal here at the Lloyd Jangles Inventive Circus. After Old Man Jangles bit the big one, and went to the big cotton candy machine in the sky, we got a new boss, and he's been something else. GD Gary we call him, but I don't know what the GD stands for. I could guess, I suppose. And GD Gary's got a budget to keep if he's going to keep this ragtag group of circus freaks and talking animals on the road. I don't get paid bupkis, though he did recently offer me double bupkis, but I don't think he was serious. So GD Gary's not getting rid of Billy, but he's had his eye on the clowns.
“Too many clowns spoil the broth,” he said, making no sense at all.
So for the last however many weeks we've had circus freak Olympic games to get rid of a bunch of excess clowns and things got super hairy when we got down to four. No, really, all the clowns had to shave off excess body hair. Not a pretty picture.
Goose Droppings. That'd be a guess what the GD stands for. I doubt it though.
Four clowns, and I gotta tell ya, four really talented clowns going head to head. Clown nose to honking clown nose.
There's Milk Bottle, who's probably one of the most popular in the bunch. Gotta love her. She really gets to the heart of clowning. She can make you laugh, or cry. Gives a real heartfelt performance. Most clowns just pile out of tiny cars, or fart without whoopee cushions. Milk Bottle's got the real deal talent though. One of a kind. She could have won the whole thing based on how much heart she has.
You can't forget Zeppy either though. Zeppy's a really interesting case, let me tell you. Plenty of history with this one. She's got these stories, oh the stories. You don't realize just how far deep you're into them until you forget which day of the week it is, which isn't hard for me. Lots of great information from this one when she stands on the stage and spins a tale. No, really, spins it right 'round. It's all so mystifying, and you learn stuff and end up in a different world. Sometimes when that happens I forget to come back. She could have won the whole thing just because she does things to your mind that many other clowns don't. And I'm usually never down for brain molestation, but it's all cool with Zeppy.
Garlic Drizzle could be what GD stands for. He does have some interesting breath.
Then we have the boys, err, men of the clown bunch. The Talon really never meant to be a clown here at the circus, but we didn't know what else to do with him. He's got this great trick that he does with these knife-claw type things, but can still make a majestic balloon animal. The thing with The Talon is his mastery of technique. Each and every moment of his performance is so precise. Technically, there's not likely a better clown out there today. And there's lots of clowns out there, wherever there is. The Talon is a class act too. Got it all down pat, he does. He could win just 'cuz he's so good.
The Poet on the other hand, left or right, I'm not sure, he's unique. He's kind of new to clowning I think, because he kind of just improvises as he goes. The thing is, he's people -phobic, which is really unlucky for him, because, well, he's a people. How do you deal with your own kind when you can't deal with your own kind? So I give him credit just for showing up. His act is a lot of fun, and sometimes it's deeply tragic, which makes you relate to a man in clown makeup. Didn't see that coming did ya? Other times he makes you think about things you didn't realize you ought to be thinking about as he does his simple little card tricks. I've never seen anything like him, and he's probably the underdog too, but he keeps showing up, and stays true to the type of clown he is. He totally could win the whole thing and keep the clown job because he's so true to himself, even when he's making stuff up.
Good Duck? That's likely it.
I wish I knew who won the great clown competition, but I hijacked the clown car with the talking lion to go on a double date in Topeka. Those things sure are roomy! Guess I'll have to wait till we get back, but either way, we're going to have a top quality clown doing his or her clown thing at the Lloyd Jangles Inventive Circus. If we ever make it back that is.
Key to the city.
A man is being mugged in the subway.
The bank on 3rd is being robbed.
I'm posing with the mayor.
What a hero.
Standing here now, I realize that even taking the time to recognize this thought is costing someone their life. More and more, I can't stop the thinking though. It's becoming unbearable. They don't think I have anything to deal with. I'm their model boy scout, after all. What's there to stress? What kind of hero would I be if they knew that the weight of the world they place on my back actually cripples me? I bet they'd laugh and shrug it off. “He's invincible!” In many ways, I am. I'm a god to these people. But how do you save one life, knowing that you can't save them all? What gives me the right to choose who gets to survive and who has to lose it all? It was easy playing this role at first, but the more time that passes, the less I like the image they paint of me.
They call me Superman.
But I'm just another part of the machine. Just another guy that does his best when he can, and fails like no other when he can't. How one goes about looking past the faults that line up like locomotives, I'm not sure. They always notice how high I fly. “Look! Up in the sky,” they say. The trouble is, no one ever sees how hard I hit the ground.
“Can't someone help me?”
Of course. I'm Superman.
She's sleeping soundly now, the dreams must have passed. I'm the only husband in the world who can check on his wife from two cities away. I wonder if she truly feels safe? She never gets to feel me beside her, but if she needed me, I'd be there by her next thought. I hope she knows that. She has to have faith in that though; never really gets to actually feel the comfort. Lois has to believe in comfort whether it actually exists or not. That's what I offer her. What kind of man does that make me? I'm not really a man at all. I'm an alien here, adopted as the world's savior. Who's going to save me when I don't know how to do it anymore? Bullets can't kill me. My bones won't break.
I can be destroyed though, and I just might do it myself, from the inside out.
This can't be happening, not again. Damn it. Two seconds late. Two little moments. He's drowning. He's...drowned.
The mother's screaming. Of course she is. I would be too. Why didn't I get here sooner? Too much distraction. All this wrestling in my head. “What good are you?” I'm no good at all ma’am, I'm just Superman. “Well that should be enough,” I bet she'd scream, if her face wasn't buried in her hands, sobbing. I tell her how sorry I am for her loss, and offer further assistance. The mourning mother will have none of it. This is one of the stories the paper doesn't tell you about. This is one of the stories that replay in my brain, over and over again. This is why I become so distracted. This is why I can't do this anymore. This is why I'm leaving.
“Why has our hero forsaken us?”
You never had a hero. Just a clown in the sky.
If I'm being honest with myself, I'm really surprised these people don't see past this half-assed disguise. No wonder they need saving. Slaves to stereotypes. All of 'em. These librarian glasses hide their god and produce a powerless nobody. Whatever fulfills their expectations is good enough for them. What a world. I know a lot of people who jumped off of this bridge to end it all. I've saved quite a few of them in the process too. But if I dumped them back into their empty lives, I doubt I actually did anyone any favors. That's a recurring pattern that I don't need fake glasses to see. I can't jump though; there is no out for their fallen hero. How gifted I am. Indestructible on the outside, broken underneath it all. There is no drug that can calm me, and no drink that will wipe away the memories of every grieving mother's tears. What the hell is the point of it all?
I had to leave Lois, I had to. She deserved better than an empty bed and the heart of an alien. I don't hear the cries for help anymore either. Only the voices of regret in my mind drowning them all out. There are real heroes out there. They'll save the ones they can, and mourn those that they can't. Police. Firemen. Doctors. They did their best before I flew the skies, and they'll do so again now. And for those who just can't take it, those who've had enough. They're free to jump off this heartless bridge again. Destiny is a story we're all free to write for ourselves without other people's expectations getting in the way.
“Mister! You don't have to do it. Don't jump!”
Concern for a fallen idol. That's quaint.
The night is six months passed, but fresh and crisp in my mind. In a manner of speaking, I'd become unraveled. The pressure of not only being a public servant, but the world's strongest, fastest, super-human servant wore at my brain. As the Metropolis skyline danced in the twinkling starlight, a caring stranger did what he could to “talk me off the ledge.” He had no idea who I was, nor the fact that I couldn't have committed suicide if I had tried. He saved me nonetheless. Someone had finally saved me. A mortal! Mr. No-One-Inparticular. I don't even recall his name. There was a soothing quality in his jagged voice, as he looked at me as his equal. How refreshing it was to not have lofty expectations strapped to my back like a Kryptonite-lined freighter.
“To err is to be a human, they say.”
Human. You think I'm human.
Cassidy's was an all-night diner that served as the home of our hours-long conversation. I found it intriguing to feel so low, and yet, be on someone's level at the same time. This stranger did not see me as Superman, or unique in any way at all. “We all make mistakes man, that's what riding the tide is all about,” he said. My savior didn't see an error that a man, a real man, couldn't make it back from. He himself admitted to robbery, to arson, to being neglectful parent. And though he had regrets, he still found it within himself to push further, keep going, and on that fateful night, help another.
“You're just a regular guy ya know. You're only one man.”
A man. That's exactly what I've become.
I may be called Superman when I'm saving someone here, flying to save another there, but I am after all, only a man. Men have faults, and I was raised to learn things such as suffering, such as guilt. Those are human traits that I acquired during my Earthly upbringing. The stranger was correct. Errors are birthed by humans. You can't make a mistake if you are the arbiter of what is right, and what is wrong. That was the key to conquering my breakdown: realizing that I had learned to be human.
“You'll get back up on that horse, man. You'll fly high again one day.”
Yes. I will fly again. Because I can. Because you can't.
That was all it took for me to remember why the people viewed me as god-like: on their world, I have no equal. Realizing that my human traits were a facade was all it took to realize that remorse is pointless. Responsibility comes with consequences, and the meek need a strong arm to lead them towards a prosperous tomorrow. I have two.
We were both caught by surprise when I snapped the stranger's neck behind that diner.
He was a common criminal and admitted deadbeat. He needed to pay for the human offenses he had been party to. It felt wondrous to have the power of life and death in my hand again.
“But you can't, I am the President...”
But I can. For I am a god.
They call me Superman because I have no rival. It may have taken all of those months since that night in the diner, but the world has fallen at my feet. The Earth was in need of a leader, one who flies higher than the masses. Fulfilling my destiny has shown them just who that leader is. I like to thank that stranger each and every day. If it weren't for him turning me around, I would have languished as one of them for far too long. I no longer worry about saving one person in spite of another. I save them all by sitting high above them, watching them try to save themselves.
Cheers for our city.
A woman is being accosted on the city bus.
The bank on 3rd is being robbed again.
I am posing as their Superman.
It's hard to smile when you know you can't see the other side of a dream. It's clear that it's happening, but even at your most lucid, you know you can't stop it if it decides to ride off the rails towards a town called nightmare. The options of course are few, you can't control it, you can't stop it, you'd be lucky to even remember most of it. Cliché as it is, I suppose that's why they say that, “life is but a dream.” Things can go haywire in an instant. Often, I find myself terrified of simple life actions and possible undesired repercussions. And though I regularly show the scars, I can't quite recall certain events that have lead to the pain. In my life, I don't control my story as much as my story controls me.
And so I write.
The words on the page flow out of me, and I around them, swiftly. There is no master present, only the beauty and the faith in the process. What is the writer if not the conduit between the creative world, and the visceral one? I concoct stories and share tales of my youth, like life, sometimes tragic, other times amusing. The stories then take a life all of their own. You just have to have faith that the story is the very best you can do.
It's when the story dissolves into the ether that things tend to get problematic.
Once the reader, opens up the mighty gates of a book's cover, or clicks their mouse on an author's blog link, the story becomes one with the reader. In a manner of speaking. Might I suggest that the author owns the story, but once the gates have been opened, and the reader is welcomed onto the estate that is the story, they become co-owners of the land. Once they've assessed the property and it's value, they are free to come and go as they please. They can even adventure out to the margins of the property and look at it from a glorious new perspective, or simply re-trace the steps of their first visit. The author remains steadfast, supervising from the foot of the property, waiting hopefully for thank you cards in the mailbox:
Dearest Sir or Madame,
The tour of your property was a wondrous event, and we must congratulate you on your recent renovations. The Escher staircase leading to a room filled with empty birdcages was a modest delight.
Feedback is greatly desired, unless of course there's a tinge of negativity afoot, in which case the note will be discarded into the nearest blazing fire. It's not that the author does not seek constructive criticism, it's merely that their ego didn't secure the story's window shutters quite tight enough, and the critical words are akin to an impromptu storm. So difficult to build back up what has been torn apart and cast into the thoughtless night sky.
“Excuse me, mister writer sir?”
Um, yes, what is it, Words on My Page?
“It's just sir, I believe you might be coming off a bit too pretentious in this story here. You might consider a different tone.”
I see. Am I correct in sighting that you read with an English accent? And you're calling me pretentious?
“Well, you are the one writing me, my Lord.”
Well played, Words on My Page, well played. Moving along...
Each and every one of us have various desires, but a good deal of us, if I had to guess, really just want to be accepted. What person that you know of, that consistently puts themselves out there, on the firing lines, isn't looking for at least a bit of acceptance?
My Step-Father tried to run me out of my mother's life.
I was, and still am, terrified of social situations, with worry of how I'll be judged.
I've been bullied, and bruised, abused, called homophobic slurs and backhanded remarks (not to mention the remarkably strong backhands).
Yet, here I am.
I'm looking for my father.
I'm reaching out to long-lost friends I wasn't brave enough to meet in the first place.
I'm here to work out the soreness in my brazenly beaten body.
I prostrate myself before you now, these words the ground beneath my back. I'm not saying I'm any hero, please don't start a crowdfunding venture in my honor.
But damn it. Yes, I am in fact, here.
While here, there are a number of words inside of me that I feel need sharing. You're reading two thousand or so here, with much luck, a few more next week. And hopefully down the line, enough to own property in the Amazon. But much like a salt and pepper shaker, these words need to come out in slow, steady, succession. If I unwind the top too fast, you might find yourself smothered in enough words and ideas to level a small library.
If these words here are my radio, let this song slay everyone tonight.
This story's too hopeful.
This one is too dark.
Definitely not his best.
After the first word, this story fell quite apart.
Raven-like, the critics amass; are these treacherous birds nesting in your mouth, or only in the blackness of my insecure mind?
“I really like the turn of that phrase sir.”
Thank you Words, that means a lot.
Panic attacks are tiny tremors.
Reminders of the pain that has come before.
“Hey, you don't belong here,
this situation just isn't for you.”
“It's best you run away.”
So you learn to fear the normal,
you tend to hide in corners,
only play inside the dark.
If they find you,
You're off again,
another mental closet,
another echoing solitude.
And you tell yourself,
“I'm the one that's broken.”
The best thing to do is not get in the way.
Don't show yourself.
They have never accepted you,
“and they never will.”
But I HAVE to be loved,
I NEED to be wanted.
Isn't that something?
Something worthy of notice?
I can't be alone.
Don't you know that I can't be alone?
They never took me to a doctor,
I was left undiagnosed.
And no one did a single thing,
each time I ran, and I hid.
It's really not surprising
through all the cracks I did slip.
35 years running down the road,
got nowhere to run,
got nowhere to go.
I was born this way.
I was born this way.
Growing up I took dinner in my room,
I wasn't welcomed at the table.
They wonder why now,
I linger in the dark.
I'm not blaming them for pushing me aside,
I'm just making myself at home,
here on the outside.
There are medicines
that they give you.
They make your mind...
Can you believe he's trying spoken word?
I don't think they're spoken words, just poorly written ones.
This won't get him any votes.
He better start a kickstarter to fund a new ego.
I don't...I don't know what I'm doing. This is terrible, I'm just wasting your time. I don't belong here. How can I sell you a story, if I don't even buy it myself? I guess it's better than quitting, that would make me look horrible and let a lot of people down. Thanks for your time, if you've read this far, I'm sorry for being such a...
“A what sir? What is it you'd have called yourself right there?”
“You were about to assign a descriptor with negative connotation to yourself, just up there. What were you doing that for?”
I'm just being honest. I'm a writer. You let people into your heart, you show them a world, and my world? No one wants to be in my world. I shouldn't have brought them here.
“Sir, may I speak frankly? I'll assume I am allowed to speak frankly. Sir, I don't give a fig's flying fruit fly what darkness you're living through. You're alright in my book.”
Funny choice of words there considering you're talking to a guy who's having a conversation with the Words on His Page.
“I tend to fall on the side of humor sir. There is only one person you need satisfy, and that is yourself. You mustn’t judge your own satisfaction based on predetermining what other folks will think. What you're brewing there is a recipe for your own failure, and I know you're a finer cook than all that.”
You don't get it, you're just words and thoughts. I live this life. Every single social situation, in person, online, over text, or even in a stupid story like this is basically a job interview. You only have a few moments to really leave an impression. Then, boom, you're automatically judged for what you appear to be. It's like every time you walk out that door, you have to be a bit better then you were the last time. Every story has to top the last, or you'll end up sidelined. I've lived my whole life like that. If every step is a competition, one in which the rules are constantly shifting, I might add, I'll just sit this one out.
“So you'd rather not even try at all then? Hmm? Is that really living, sir? Are you, or are you not, alive?”
I can't answer that. I really can't.
“For that, I am sorry sir. Might I make one simple suggestion?”
“What do you say we finish this one out, let's put an end to this story, at least.”
Can you believe how long this has gone on?
Surely there's no one left still reading this lunacy?
I'm not even certain who we are.
Clearly we're the best part of this story.
You know what? You know what I think? I think I don't give...a “fig's flying fruit fly” what you think. Furthermore, I don't care if you're actually a Chorus in my head, or actually represent things that people will say about this story. Do you know why? Because this story is mine. Yeah, I put it out there, and any number of other people can have their own perspective, but they can't change my own. I choose to be creative, I choose to be one person, broken or not, and that's me. You can't say anything that can take that away from me. Does every story I write have to be better than the last? No, no it doesn't The story needs to be only one thing: THAT STORY. And for me? For me that's enough.
“Hear, hear sir!”
I am a writer because I have to be, I need to let these words flow out, and me around them, swiftly. They make me feel fulfilled. That's how I experience life: with words on a page. I may have been handed a bad hand, and no, I may not be the norm, but what I am is enough. I am enough, no matter what anyone else thinks of me.
This is all a bit smug don't you think?
Was it something we said?
I don't think...
“There! I stopped them sir, you needn't worry about them buggering you again.”
Thank you Words.
The best story that I'll ever write, is still to come. That's because each and every time I do this, I grow and learn as I go. Each story will be better than the last, as long as I keep going, as long as I don't sit out at the sidelines. In that way, I've already won. The best story is the one that fulfills me, that drives me, that engages my emotions. As long as I'm real, and true to myself? Every story I write will be the best one to the only person who matters: me.